PN Connect Rapid Briefing - Facebook Graph Search

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As a feature enhancement, as a search engine, and as a new ad platform, Facebook beta Graph Search announced on 1/15 has the potential to impact the brand social media landscape in a number of ways. …

As a feature enhancement, as a search engine, and as a new ad platform, Facebook beta Graph Search announced on 1/15 has the potential to impact the brand social media landscape in a number of ways. At the conceptual level, Facebook continues to go down a path that deprecates the role of URL, or link level exploration of the Web in favor of the social graph object - this has advantages and disadvantages but it diverges from Google's approach and from the approach of most modern platforms. Whether it's the way forward for the Web as a whole or its own walled ecosystem remains to be seen (by a long shot), but for businesses seeking to keep their social media strategy calibrated for broad success, we believe the smartest course is to anchor most publishing programs in a central, URL-based, owned media hub on the Web while continuing to fully participate on Facebook's constantly evolving playing field.

So that you're as prepared as you can be as it rolls out, our global team has prepared a 15-page briefing outlining our initial perspective and recommendations regarding Facebook's Graph Search. It outlines what this new feature is, where we think it's heading, its impact to the social space, and what we will be watching out for as it develops.

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  • 1. Observations, analysis, and insights on Facebook’s new beta internal search engine PN CONNECT RAPID BRIEFINGJanuary 16, 2013
  • 2. WHAT IS IT?A SEARCH FOR THINGS, NOT LINKSGraph Search is the new interface for Search withinFacebook. It allows you to use a series of filters tofind photos, places, or things based on whatFacebook knows about the likes and activity ofothers.Instead of a Google or Bing search, which isultimately trying to connect you with Web pagesmost relevant to your query, Graph Search connectsyou with a list of Facebook objects - profiles,restaurants, TV show pages, etc. – that match whatyou’re looking for. It’s almost as if they took the adtargeting suite and flipped it around to be used byconsumers.It also connects up with Bing search, so any querythat doesn’t return strong enough results from withinFacebook will bring back Bing listings that are morelike traditional search engine results.2 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 3. THE BASICS FACTS AT A GLANCE •  Graph Search is a beta product not yet released to the public, and will roll out to a small subset of users first. Join the waiting list here: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch •  At the present time, it does not have a publicly available API. •  At launch, Graph Search is only in English; Facebook plans to expand it to more languages quickly. •  It does not search posts or status updates yet but will in the future. •  All results are ranked primarily to surface those connected to people you care most about first; then, other signals within Facebook’s data stores are taken into account. •  At launch there are no unique paid placement opportunities, but it is believed that Facebook’s current paid placement opportunities will soon be in play in these results.3 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 4. HOW DOES IT WORK? As in Google’s “Search Plus Your RECOMMENDATIONS THE ALGORITHM World,” your search results will be ranked around your relationships. The In terms of recommendations, it’s easy to In a similar fashion to how Google+ more you interact with someone, the imagine users turning to Graph Search in works, Facebook “likes” and check- more likely the algorithm will much the same way they use Yelp, ins form the primary signals used to privilege their recommendations and Foursquare, etc. today. It could quickly determine relevance. There are data over those of strangers. supplant sites such as Angie’s List and numerous secondary factors as well, become a go-to way to source restaurant including the data from when recommendations, professional services, new Facebook has asked users to rank and recommend restaurants they INITIAL USE CASES movies and TV shows, products, etc. have checked into. FINDING PEOPLE Facebook has not yet shared any PAID VS. ORGANIC This includes Facebook’s original further detail on the algorithm, so it purpose – dating, and professional is expected that attributes will be At launch, Facebook has indicated that there recruitment. Some observers see the valued in some way similar to are no unique sponsored placement potential for Graph Search to become Edgerank’s. There is a separate team opportunities in Graph Search, but you can the preferred method to find vetted working iteratively on Search, so it’s expect them to layer those opportunities in candidates since it allows recruiters to also possible they will derive their over time, as this will create a market similar explore the friend and colleague own scoring system. to Google’s sponsored results. networks of other businesses so easily.  4!4 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 5. WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE When you begin to type a search parameter into the search bar, you’ll see: In this example, the user began to type “my friends who” The bolded auto-completed words form possible search queries that the user may be looking for, in this case friends who live in San Francisco, friends who work at Facebook, etc.5 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 6. WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE Example of a Graph Search results page In this example, “Movies liked by my friends” was entered into the search bar Search results can be This section allows you to refine your “liked” immediately. The search using several different category magnifying glass leads off types. Refining filters are contextual into a further branching and Graph Search presents filters based search that encourages on the type of search you are discovery. performing.6 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 7. WHAT OTHERS SAY “With Facebook Graph Search, the objects we search for aren’t web pages but instead virtual representations of real world objects: people, places and things. The connections are primarily Facebook Likes. Did such-and-such a person like a particular photo? A particular doctor? A particular restaurant? Those likes are the ties that bind the information in Facebook together.” - Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land “Most strikingly, it expands Facebook’s core mission – not just obsessively connecting users with people they already know, but becoming a vehicle of discovery.” - Steven Levy, Wired “It’s easy to see the potential. Facebook is generally appealing to advertisers because it knows users’ interests and interactions. Now, on top of that, it could be likely to know what those same users are about to do.” - Sarah Kessler, Fast Company “If Graph Search is successful, it will be much more important that your page is liked by the friends of a person searching for your product or service. Engagement will continue to be important for a number of reasons, but the page like will be back in play as a primary Facebook marketing metric.” - Craig Smith, Social Media Today7 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 8. STRATEGIC IMPACTCONTENT VISIBILITY ALWAYS BET ON URLS FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALSIn the short term, Graph Search only With the emphasis on social graph Brands that approach SEO on Google byworks at the Page or Brand level, not at objects as their atomic unit, Facebook, aligning with Google’s core mission andthe post level. Until it expands its feature unlike Google, is downplaying the aiming to do everything they can to matchset, this will mean most content a brand importance of the URL, link, or Web searchers up with the best and mostproduces on Facebook will be virtually page as a unit of search and interest. relevant information have enjoyedinvisible to a searcher – they will be Programs that operate from a central sustained success, and ultimately haven’tsearching for and land on a brand’s owned media hub and anchor their taken any actions that would compromisetimeline, not a specific post. In the short activities in the canonical structure of their business goals in other ways. Interm, this will also likely mean that a the Web will play comfortably in both Facebook’s ecosystem, the approachpage’s aggregate activity level will ecosystems, while those that place should be no different.matter more than the activity around its strong bets on Facebook alone will findmost massively popular posts. As brands themselves completely beholden to the In some form or another, Facebook’sexperiment with optimizing around the economics of its emerging advertising algorithm will seek to makelimited beta of Graph Search, initial platform. recommendations based on total activityfindings will emerge and we will evaluate and sentiment around each page, person,their worth in the broader context. Our recommendation is to watch the or object and against the filter of one’s beta rollout of Graph Search as its peers – in this way, brand strategy onWe expect post-level search to be highly details emerge, but resist the urge to Facebook remains unchanged. Althoughprioritized in the product roadmap, anchor all social content on Facebook’s tactics may fall in or out of fashion,however, so expect this to change in a shifting foundation. aligning around business goals and anmatter of months. audience’s needs and interests will not.8 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 9. OUR PERSPECTIVE A BRIDGE TO A MORE OBJECT-ORIENTED PLATFORM As a feature enhancement, Graph Search should provide a new reason for Facebook’s billion- plus users to remain engaged with the platform and spend more time within its walls. By Facebook’s own acknowledgement its search interface has for years been sorely lacking as a way to find information quickly, and Graph Search does more than just shore that up – it exposes a new, more powerful way to take advantage of all of that rich metadata. As it rolls out initially, we expect already popular individuals, businesses, and brands to see an infusion of new referral traffic from Graph Search, but in the short term that will be limited to page-level and not post-level activity until Facebook further evolves Graph Search. In the short term, it will not expose the depth and breadth of an active brand’s content; brand pages will be viewed and presented more as landing pages than as repositories.9 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 10. OUR PERSPECTIVE A SCREWDRIVER, NOT A MULTI-TOOL As a standalone search engine, Facebook Graph Search has the potential to erode market share over time particularly for vertical recommendation engines and tools like Yelp, Foursquare, LinkedIn, etc. As it gains traction, it will likely deflect some percentage of searches that would otherwise take place on those external sites, including Google. However, since in its current incarnation it is limited to some very particular use cases for search confined to helping users find objects (people, places, businesses, etc.) it’s not a “Google killer” today. It would take many iteration cycles before Facebook could offer the wide range of use cases Google supports today and pass the “sniff test” of a user looking for a particular restaurant, event, or movie and for whatever reason can’t get the results they expect to display.10 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 11. OUR PERSPECTIVE A NEW AND LUCRATIVE AD INVENTORY – PRICING MODEL UNKNOWN As an advertising platform, the new Search tool will soon offer new opportunities to reach highly qualified and motivated users with demonstrated purchase intent. It will likely be as lucrative and as competitive a marketplace as Google’s SEM platform as it reaches full volume. In fact, it increases the pressure on Google to more fully integrate Search Plus Your World and create unique opportunities for advertisers to deliver smarter, more customized content that takes advantage of its store of social data. On both platforms, advertisers will only be limited by their ability to create customized content that takes advantage of the data. That said, it is not yet clear how Facebook will price those opportunities. Google has always generally tied the costs of its advertising products to the market rate as established through an arbitrage model, while Facebook has often used a more abstract model.11 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 12. OUR PERSPECTIVE THE WEB VS. THE SOCIAL GRAPH GARDEN Facebook continues to give short shrift to the URL, link, or Web page as a unit of content and Search interest, while Google continues to make the URL the atomic unit of its world. Programs that operate from a central owned media hub and anchor activities in the canonical structure of the Web will be able to play comfortably in both ecosystems, while those that place strong bets on Facebook alone will likely find themselves completely beholden to the economics of its emerging advertising platform. Whether it’s viewed as a positive or a negative, it’s clearly a two-horse race moving forward. To maximize impact for the near future, brands will need to straddle both ecosystems – Facebook’s and Google’s – and carefully plan both paid and organic programs in both that follow the swim lanes each provide.12 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 13. WHAT TO WATCHBroadcasting the future of print from the Olympics of printing KEY QUESTIONS WE’LL BE EVALUATING MOVING FORWARD •  The purpose of Graph Search is to keep users within Facebook’s walls. That can run counter to a brands objective to get them out of Facebook for a conversion of one form or another, which places more emphasis on brand posts to make a compelling case for a user to click to leave Facebook. Will Facebook’s algorithm and feature set penalize brands that successfully drive users off of the platform? •  Weve consistently heard from Facebook and other studies that visual content such as photos drives more engagement. How will photos be properly indexed and displayed by Graph Search? •  Given Facebooks track record of changing their products how stable can we expect this product to be over the next twelve months? How different will the experience and results be in a few months from launch? •  Google has built an entire secondary industry around SEO/SEM and that community is very passionate. Until now, Facebook has purely been SEM-focused. How will it develop/cultivate an SEO community built around Graph Search?13 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 14. NEXT STEPS TO PREPARE FOR GRAPH SEARCH… 1.  The feature is rolling out slowly to a small beta list, so it may not make sense yet to make changes to your publishing program, given the feature’s initial limited volume and what little is known yet. 2.  Sign up for the waiting list and enlist others to do so as well so that you have a large body of testers available when the time comes: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch 3.  Monitor the tech press and sources like Inside Facebook for emerging case studies and experiments that delve in to the ranking algorithm. 4.  Watch your inbox for additional insights from PN Connect as more details become clear. PN CONNECT IS HERE TO HELP If you have any questions about Graph Search or would to talk more broadly about related social media strategies, please contact the PN Connect digital marketing team.14 PN Connect Rapid Briefing: Facebook Graph Search
  • 15. ABOUT PNCONNECTPN Connect is the global digital services offering from Porter Novelli.PN Connect represents our social media marketing, web developmentand digital analytics services and incorporates the combined talent,resources, experience, and leadership of both Voce and Porter Novelli’sdigital teams. Currently the team includes 60+ digital consultants acrossour network of offices working with some of our largest clients.For more information about PN Connect or to learn how we can helpyour organization with digital strategy, development and measurement e-mail: pnconnect@porternovelli.com